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China, Russia Abstain Again

Thalif Deen (Courtesy author's photo)

Thalif Deen (Courtesy author’s photo)

By Thalif Deen - NEW YORK (IDN) — When the 15 member UN Security Council (UNSC) voted on a resolution August 30 condemning “in the strongest terms the deplorable attacks” at the Kabul airport on August 26, 13 countries voted in favour and none against.

But two countries abstained on the resolution—and both were permanent members of the UNSC—namely Russia and China, with the other three, the US France and UK, initiating the resolution.

The abstentions were also a clear indication that both China and Russia were perhaps implicitly extending their political support to the Taliban—and perhaps the new government that will soon be installed in Kabul.

But the attacks on the airport, however, were not by the Taliban but by the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, an entity affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh), and which resulted in deaths and injuries of over 300 civilians and 28 military personnel.

Still, how did the suicide bombers reach their targets despite several security check points manned by Taliban? And was there any collusion between the IS bomber and the Taliban? Both questions remained unanswered.

Asked to comment on the abstention by the two major powers on the resolution, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield did not mince words.

“We were disappointed with the abstentions of Russia and China. I will tell you that within the five permanent members (P5), we consulted very closely. We took into account some of the concerns that both the Chinese and the Russians raised in the draft resolution that was eventually approved”, she said.

So, the fact that they abstained, “I think they will have to explain themselves. But I think the Security Council spoke strongly, and what’s in the resolution, I think, are issues that are important to every single member of the Security Council, including China and Russia.”

The resolution took note of the Taliban’s condemnation of the attack but demanded that Afghan territory “not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or to finance terrorist acts.”

But for the US and the Western powers, a lingering question remains: Will the Taliban live up to its commitment to

New Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Alekseevich Nebenzia meets UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (UN photo  by Eskinder Debebe, July 2017)

New Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Alekseevich Nebenzia meets UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (UN photo by Eskinder Debebe, July 2017)

facilitate safe passage for Afghans and foreign nationals who want to leave Afghanistan?

“Consistent with the right to leave any country, including one’s own, everybody must be allowed to safely leave Afghanistan, for whatever reason, whenever they want, by air or by land. This is of the utmost importance to us.,” the US envoy said.

Asked about past and future sanctions, Ambassador Barbara Woodward of UK told reporters August 30: “The Security Council does have, I think, two important avenues here. The first is that we know that the Taliban want to see the lifting of some of the sanctions on Afghanistan, and that will be an important consideration”.

“The flip side of that is, of course, the Security Council could consider further sanctions on Afghanistan. We’d want to be careful in doing that because the women and men and children of Afghanistan are already suffering hugely”.

“But there will be opportunities in the coming days and weeks now we’ve got this resolution decided, I think, to build on, in the UN Security Council, among Permanent Five members; further consultation among the G7, which we’ve been chairing, and G7 and extended format; working with regional partners to look at ways where we need to move forward on some of the longer-term questions,” Woodward declared.

Since 1966, the Security Council has established 30 sanctions regimes—in Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, the former Yugoslavia (2), Haiti, Iraq (2), Angola, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Eritrea, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Liberia (3), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan, Lebanon, North Korea, Iran, Libya (2), Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic, Yemen, South Sudan and Mali, as well as against ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Ambassador Zhang Jun, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations (UN photo for education only)

Ambassador Zhang Jun, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations (UN photo for education only)

Meanwhile, one of the most daunting problems facing Afghanistan is the ongoing humanitarian crisis. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has estimated that nearly a half million Afghans have been internally displaced this year.

The World Food Program (WFP) has estimated that 14 million people in Afghanistan are at risk of starving without food assistance while the children’s agency UNICEF has said that COVID-19 vaccinations have dropped by 80 percent in recent weeks.

The 10 non-permanent members of the UNSC who voted for the resolution include: EstoniaIndiaIreland,  KenyaMexicoNigerNorwaySaint Vincent and the GrenadinesTunisia and Vietnam. [IDN-InDepthNews – 31 August 2021]

Photo: The fast-evolving conflict has reportedly reached, Kabul, the centre of Afghanistan’s social and political life. Credit: UNAMA/Fardin Waezi

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